Abilene Christian University is announcing a pilot program to provide an iPhone or iPod touch to every new student. At first glance, I found myself wondering: if some colleges are providing MacBooks with tuition, doesn't an iPhone seem like a less-expensive attempt to lure new blood? Upon further consideration, I think there are some distinct advantages to a pocket-sized device in a learning environment. From constant connectivity to ultra-portability, it could provide a means for every student to access learning materials any time, from any place.
ACU has obviously considered this, and then some. With apparently well-coordinated plans to take advantage of the devices – including podcasts, mobile-accessible class materials, active-learning strategies and a re-focusing of the campus media – they're preparing to take maximum advantage of the iPhone/iPod touch possibilities. If it's a gimmick, it sure seems like a useful, well-thought-out one. For more information, case studies and future plans, take a peek at the ACU Mobile Learning page.